THE Perpetual Help Altas, NCAA Season 94 season hosts and the biggest surprise of the men’s basketball tournament, could be in danger of losing every game that they have won, sources told SPIN.PH.
Several camps will reportedly be seeking clarification for the eligibility of two players from the Altas who might have broken an eligibility rule while undergoing residency last year.
The players in question are transferees Edgar Charcos and Kim Aurin – two key cogs in coach Frankie Lim’s surprising Altas side this season. Perpetual is currently in fourth place with a 9-5 record but that could all be for naught pending on what materializes in the next few days.
One league source showed evidence that the pair played in the Metro Basketball Tournament last year while they were in residency – suiting up for the Las Pinas Home Defenders for that season, with stories from multiple credible media outfits backing that claim.
Charcos last played in the UAAP Season 79 for University of the East, while Aurin last played for Jose Rizal University back in NCAA Season 92.
Upon further investigation, SPIN found out that some of the current players on the Altas side now also played in that league – albeit they were part of the school’s team B and weren’t going through residency.
MBT organizers confirmed to Spin.ph that Charcos and Aurin did play in the tournament alongside players from Perpetual’s pool team.
So what exactly is wrong with the situation? It all depends on the interpretation of league rules.
Asked about the current eligibility rules, a high ranking league official said that players undergoing residency couldn’t play for a certain team unless the team that they’ll be playing for are "school-based," much like the PBA D-League teams of several schools.
That’s why guys like Bonbon Batiller, Christian Fajarito, Larry Muyang, and Fran Yu who played for Wangs Basketball - Letran and Justin Gutang who suited up for Go for Gold – College of St. Benilde, weren’t put into question.
It’s also the reason why Jordan Sta. Ana, currently serving residency for Letran, was pulled out from the Che’Lu Bar and Grill Revellers right before Games Four and Five of the Foundation Cup Finals. Since Sta. Ana needed to beat the cut-off for late enrollees, Letran had no other choice but to pull out the former UST player to avoid complications in his residency.
Now, the issue becomes a game of questions that needs to be answered. Can the Las Pinas side in the MBT be considered as "school-based"? Did the school reach out to the league to ask permission for Charcos and Aurin?
“Hindi nagpaalam. And even if magpaalam sila, hindi rin papayagan, kasi hindi naman Perpetual ang dala e,” said another league official.
Another thing that needs to be looked into is if the league can still take action for eligibility blunders this late in the season.
League rules state that questions with regard to eligibility can only be raised 24 hours before the final game day of the first round. However, there’s a certain part of that rule that could work against the Altas’ favor.
Because there could possibly be 'negligence' from the school in question, the eligibility of Charcos and Aurin could technically be 'void from the beginning.'
“Pwede naman, ngayon lang lumabas e. Uso naman ang void ab initio ngayon hindi ba?” another official said in jest.
“Yes, dapat before the first round lang. Pero there the word ‘except’ dun sa rule e. Except if there’s negligence or misrepresentation,” he added.
The moment a school pursues a formal protest, the basketball committee of the NCAA is mandated to dig deeper into the issue before elevating their findings and recommendations to the policy board after the investigation.
League insiders believe there is a case against the season hosts - it is just a matter of filing a formal protest.
"May laban yan. Magiintay nalang ng formal inquiry bago imbestigahan," another source said.
SPIN reached out to Perpetual Help athletic director Sammy Acaylar, but the volleyball coach-turned-school official hasn't issued a response at posting time.